Der Müll nimmt nämlich nicht nur Platz in deiner Wohnung, sondern auch auf deiner Seele weg.

Shouldn't it be like "Der Müll nimmt den Platz nicht nur in deiner Wohnung". And the second part without "weg". "Garbage takes space not only in your flat, but also in your soul".

Or is there some kind of poetic license involved?


Platz is used as an uncountable word here, like space. The fixed expression Platz wegnehmen (a Funktionsverbgefüge, as @amadeusamadeus pointed out) means to use up space. So there's no article needed, and the word weg is part of the separated verb.

The order of parts in the sentence is a bit unusual, especially the position of the word Platz is bordering to bad style.

The standard order would be either:

Der Müll nimmt nämlich nicht nur in deiner Wohnung, sondern auch auf deiner Seele Platz weg.


Der Müll nimmt nämlich Platz nicht nur in deiner Wohnung, sondern auch auf deiner Seele weg.

The point is that the whole prepositional adverb "nicht nur in deiner Wohnung, sondern auch auf deiner Seele" refers to Platz, but the word order in the original sentence doesn't reflect that. In the sondern part, the reference to Platz is just implied. It's certainly a correct sentence, and native speakers will definitely use this kind of ellipsis.

  • I couldn't stop thinking about "weg" as if it were an adverb, and I was wrong about the article before "Platz", but yeah, the part, that bothered me was the position of "nicht nur". I'm a beginner here, so I tried to shorten the question as much as possible. But anyway, thanks a lot!
    – Gargoyle
    Apr 30 at 10:55
  • The reason why Platz wegnehmen has no article is not that it is uncountable (it can have an article: den (ganzen) Platz wegnehmen). The reason is the same as for the countable nouns in Auto fahren and Pfeife rauchen: they are Funktionsverbgefüge (cf. Duden-Grammatik, §§ 395, 580). Apr 30 at 11:14
  • @amadeusamadeus: I'm not sure -- you can use Platz as an uncountable noun, right? (Ist noch Platz im Auto, wir müssen noch Platz schaffen/lassen/freihalten/freiräumen, das verbraucht Platz, wieviel Platz habt ihr?) You can define all of these as FVGs if you want, but does that make sense? Why do it with Platz but not with Milch then?
    – HalvarF
    Apr 30 at 11:48
  • @HalvarF I'd say that Milch wegnehmen (e.g. meine Mitbewohnerin nimmt Milch weg ~ take away milk) wouldn't work just as well despite being uncountable. Platz wegnehmen, however, is a fixed expression with a non-literal meaning (I guess that's also why you translated it as use up instead of take away) and thus should be a FVG. Indeed I think that most of the other examples would also be FVGs for the same reasons, just like the variations Bescheid geben/bekommen/erhalten would all be. Only Platz verbrauchen/haben seem indistinguishable from Milch verbrauchen/haben. Apr 30 at 12:00
  • @amadeusamadeus: I see. You're right, "Platz wegnehmen" is an FVG, because "wegnehmen" gets a whole new meaning when used in "Platz wegnehmen". But "Platz" doesn't really change its meaning, it's used as an uncountable word meaning space. Whether you say that there is no article because it's an uncountable noun or because it's an FVG seems a moot point then.
    – HalvarF
    Apr 30 at 12:27

Word order

No poetic license, but the Satzklammer is involved.

First of all, the verb is wegnehmen ('to take away'), not simply nehmen ('to take'). Wegnehmen is a separable verb. In a subordinate clause, it is an unit and comes last:

…, weil (der) Müll Platz wegnimmt.

In a main clause with V2 word order, however, its prefix is separated from the root. The main part comes at the second position (second part of speech), while the prefix comes last:

Der Müll nimmt (den) Platz weg.

This is why it is called Satzklammer (verbal bracket): The root becomes the left bracket and the prefix becomes the right bracket of the central field of the sentence. Only one part of speech must be outside of the sentence bracket, in the so-called first field (Vorfeld).

Another case where the prefix is 'separated' from the root (this time by an infix) would be the zu-infinitive:

…, um (den) Platz wegzunehmen.

In your sentence, we have a quite long central field, but that's not a problem:

Der Müll nimmt nämlich nicht nur Platz in deiner Wohnung, sondern auch auf deiner Seele weg.

  • Der Müll is the first field,
  • nimmt is the left bracket,
  • nämlich nicht nur Platz in deiner Wohnung, sondern auch auf deiner Seele is the central field, and
  • weg is the right bracket.

Article of Platz

In the example, Platz has no article because Platz wegnehmen is a Funktionsverbgefüge ('functional verbal phrase'), that means that the verb and a 'deverbal' noun that describes the circumstances act like an unit (like Auto fahren, Essen kochen).

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